|68th Governor of Massachusetts|
January 3, 1991 - July 29, 1997
|United States Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division|
|United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts|
|Robert Mueller (Acting)|
William Floyd Weld|
July 31, 1945
Smithtown, New York, U.S.
|Political party||Libertarian (2016-present)|
|Republican (before 2016)|
Susan Roosevelt (1975-2002) |
Leslie Marshall (2003-present)
Harvard University (BA, JD)|
University College, Oxford
William Floyd Weld (born July 31, 1945) is an American attorney, businessman, and politician who was the 68th Governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997. He was the Libertarian Party's nominee for Vice President of the United States in the 2016 election, sharing the ticket with Gary Johnson. Johnson and Weld were together the first presidential ticket since 1948 to consist of two state governors.
A libertarian Republican, Weld was the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts from 1981 to 1986, focusing on a series of high-profile public corruption cases, and as the head of the Department of Justice Criminal Division from 1986 to 1988. He resigned from the latter position in 1988, along with the Deputy Attorney General, in protest of an ethics scandal and associated investigations of Attorney General Ed Meese III.
He was elected Governor of Massachusetts in 1990 and was in office from 1991 to 1997. He was re-elected by the largest margin in Massachusetts' history in 1994 and was the Republican nominee for the United States Senate in 1996, losing to incumbent Democrat John Kerry. He resigned as governor in 1997 to focus on his nomination by President Bill Clinton to serve as United States Ambassador to Mexico, but because of opposition by the social conservative Senate Foreign Relations committee Chairman Jesse Helms, he was denied a hearing before the Foreign Relations committee and withdrew his nomination.
Weld was born in Smithtown, New York. His ancestor Edmund Weld was among the earliest students (Class of 1650) at Harvard College. He would be followed by eighteen more Welds at Harvard, where two buildings are named for the family. General Stephen Minot Weld Jr. fought with distinction in many major battles of the Civil War.
Weld has a sense of humor about his background; when Massachusetts Senate president Billy Bulger publicly teased him about his all-American heritage and wealth, pointing out that his ancestors had come over on the Mayflower, Weld rose on the dais with a correction: "Actually, they weren't on the Mayflower. They sent the servants over first to get the cottage ready."
Weld's father David (1911-1972) was an investment banker; his mother, Mary Nichols Weld (1913-1986), was a descendant of William Floyd, who was a signer of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. His siblings are Dr. Francis "Tim" Weld, David Weld, and Anne (m. Collins). His maternal grandfather was ichthyologist and ornithologist John Treadwell Nichols, and his first cousin is novelist John Nichols.
Weld was educated at Middlesex School. He graduated with an A.B. summa cum laude in classics from Harvard College in 1966, studied economics at University College, Oxford, and graduated with a J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1970.
Weld began his legal career as a counsel with the U.S. House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate impeachment inquiry, where one of his colleagues was Hillary Rodham. In 1978, he ran unsuccessfully for Massachusetts Attorney General, losing to Democratic incumbent Francis X. Bellotti by 1,532,835 votes (78.4%) to 421,417 (21.6%).
He was appointed as U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan, and held the post for five years. In that capacity, Weld expanded an ongoing public corruption investigation of the administration of Boston Mayor Kevin White. More than 20 city employees were indicted, pleaded guilty, or were convicted of a range of charges, including several key political supporters of the Mayor.
From 1988-1990, Weld was a senior partner at Hale and Dorr.
In 1981, Weld was recommended to President Reagan by Rudolph W. Giuliani, then Associate U.S. Attorney General, for appointment as the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts. During Weld's tenure, the Attorney General's office prosecuted some of New England's largest banks in cases involving money laundering and other white-collar crimes. In 1985, the Boston Globe said Weld "has been by far the most visible figure in the prosecution of financial institutions."
Weld gained national recognition in fighting public corruption: he won 109 convictions out of 111 cases.
In 1983, the Boston Globe stated: "The U.S. Attorney's office has not lost a single political corruption case since Weld took over, an achievement believed to be unparalleled in the various federal jurisdictions."
In 1986, President Reagan promoted Weld to head of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department in Washington, where Weld oversaw 700 employees. Weld was responsible for supervising all federal prosecutions, including those investigated by the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration, as well as the work of the 93 U.S. Attorneys (who by then included Rudy Giuliani in Manhattan). During this time, Weld worked on some of the Reagan administration's most significant prosecutions and investigations, including the capture of Panama's Manuel Noriega on drug trafficking charges.
In March 1988, Weld resigned from the Justice Department, together with United States Deputy Attorney General Arnold Burns and four aides, in protest of improper conduct by U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese. In July 1988, Weld and Burns jointly testified before Congress in favor of a potential prosecution of Meese for his personal financial conduct, following a report by a special prosecutor investigating Meese. Meese resigned from office in July 1988 shortly after Weld's and Burns' testimony.
In 1990, Weld announced his candidacy for Governor of Massachusetts, to replace the out-going Michael Dukakis. Although Republicans made up under 14% of the Massachusetts electorate and a Republican had not won the gubernatorial election since 1970, Weld's liberal stances on social issues made him a viable candidate for office in the heavily Democratic state. At the state Republican convention, party officials backed Steven Pierce over Weld, and initial polling had Pierce ahead by 25 percentage points. Weld gained enough support to force a primary, and in an upset election, Weld won the Republican nomination over Pierce by a 60-40 margin.
In the general election, he faced John Silber, the president of Boston University. Polls showed Weld anywhere from a statistical tie to trailing by as many as ten points. Voter dissatisfaction with the state's Democratic majority gave Weld support for his promises to reduce the state deficit, lower the unemployment rate, and cut taxes. On November 6, 1990, he was elected as the 68th Governor of Massachusetts by a 50-47 margin, to become the first Republican governor of Massachusetts since Francis W. Sargent left office in 1975.
The business community reacted strongly to Weld's leadership. In a 1994 survey of chief executives conducted by the Massachusetts High Technology Council, 83% of those polled rated the state's business climate as good or excellent--up from only 33% at the beginning of his term. Proponents might claim that Weld's leadership changed the minds of 50% of the CEOs surveyed while others would note the national economic trends or other factors might play a part. Weld also reaped the benefits of the 1990s prosperity, as the state's unemployment rate fell by more than 3 percentage points during his first term, from 9.6% in 1991 to 6.4% in 1994. As a result, Weld received grades of A in 1992, B in 1994, and B in 1996 from the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, in their biennial Fiscal Policy Report Card on America's Governors. In 1993 he supported adoption of a gun control bill in Massachusetts that included limits on gun purchases under age 21, as well as prohibiting certain types of weapons, which was not ultimately passed. He has since renounced this proposal. During his term, he launched a successful effort to privatize many state's human services, laying off thousands of state employees. After cutting state spending year-over-year for his first two years, the Republican Party lost its ability to sustain a veto in the legislature due to losses in the Massachusetts State Senate, forcing Weld to make greater concessions to Democratic legislators.
In 1994, Weld won reelection with 71% of the vote in the most one-sided gubernatorial contest in Massachusetts electoral history. Weld carried all but five towns in the whole state, even carrying Boston. Following his landslide victory, Weld briefly considered running for the presidency in 1996.
|The Weld Cabinet|
|Governor||William Weld||1991 – 1997|
|Lt. Governor||Paul Cellucci||1991 – 1997|
|Secretary of Transportation and Construction||Richard L. Taylor
|1991 – 1992|
1992 – 1997
|Secretary of Housing & Community Development||Steven Pierce
Mary L. Padula
|1991 – 1991|
1991 – 1996
|Secretary of Environmental Affairs||Susan Tierney
|1991 – 1993|
1993 – 1997
|Secretary of Consumer Affairs||Gloria Cordes Larson
|1991 – 1993|
1993 – 1996
1996 – 1997
|Secretary of Health and Human Services||David P. Forsberg
Joseph V. Gallant
William D. O'Leary
|1991 – 1992|
1992 – 1994
1995 – 1996
1996 – 1997
1997 – 1997
|Secretary of Elder Affairs||Franklin P. Ollivierre||1991 – 1997|
|Secretary of Labor||Christine Morris||1991 – 1996|
|Secretary of Administration & Finance||Peter Nessen
Mark E. Robinson
|1991 – 1993|
1993 – 1994
1994 – 1997
|Secretary of Public Safety||James B. Roche
Thomas C. Rapone
|1991 – 1992|
1992 – 1994
1994 – 1997
|Director of Economic Affairs||Stephen Tocco
Gloria Cordes Larson
|1991 – 1993|
1993 – 1996
|Secretary of Education||Piedad Robertson
|1991 – 1995|
1995 – 1996
On November 30, 1995, Weld announced that he would challenge incumbent Democratic Senator John Kerry in the 1996 election. Weld, who was among the first reasonably well-funded Republican Senate candidates in Massachusetts since Edward Brooke was unseated in 1978, said of the race, "I've spent some time recently considering where I can do the most good for the people of Massachusetts, and right now the fights that matter most to the people of this state are in another arena, Congress."
The race was covered nationwide as one of the most closely watched Senate races that year. Noted for how civil their respective campaigns were of one another, Kerry and Weld negotiated a campaign spending cap and agreed to eight separate debates leading up to the election. Though facing a traditional uphill battle in a state where Democrats outnumbered Republicans 3-to-1, and running the same year as the presidential election, Weld was a popular incumbent governor and polled even with Kerry throughout the election.
In the end, Senator Kerry won re-election with 53 percent to Weld's 45 percent - the last seriously contested Senate race in Massachusetts until the special election for Ted Kennedy's seat in 2010. Notably, President Bill Clinton won Massachusetts in 1996 with 62% of the vote.
In July 1997, Weld was nominated to become United States Ambassador to Mexico by President Bill Clinton. His nomination stalled after Senate Foreign Relations committee Chairman Jesse Helms refused to hold a hearing on the nomination, effectively blocking it. Helms was also a Republican and their party held the majority in the chamber, but Helms objected to Weld's moderate stance on social issues such as his support for gay rights, abortion rights, and the legalization of medical marijuana. This refusal to hold hearings was also rumored to be at the request of former United States Attorney General and friend of Helms, Edwin Meese. Meese reportedly had a long-standing grudge against Weld stemming from Weld's investigation of Meese during the Iran-Contra affair. Meese denied the speculation, asserting that he wished to keep his distance from Weld. Weld publicly criticized Helms, which the White House discouraged him from doing, but Weld relished the opportunity, saying: "It feels like being in a campaign. I feel newly energized. I love to stir up the pot. I seem to click on more cylinders when the pot is stirred up." Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said that Weld's chances of being confirmed weren't "very good, and that he hurt himself by attacking the chairman unfairly and with political rhetoric that was just uncalled for." There was speculation that the White House would let his nomination "die", but he refused, saying that he hoped President Clinton "does not plan to give in to ideological extortion" and that "I wanted to send a message that I wanted to be captain of my ship [the nomination] even if it's going to bottom." Some speculated that attacking the more conservative Helms was a way to position him to pick up votes from fellow moderate Republicans in a potential run for president in 2000, but he rejected this, saying that "I've had a lot of people come up to me on the street and say, 'Give 'em hell. That's the Bill Weld we know and love.'"
Weld resigned the governorship on July 29, 1997, to devote his full attention to campaigning for the ambassadorship, even though few thought he would be successful; there was speculation that he was really resigning because he had become tired of serving as governor. A bipartisan majority of Senators signed letters demanding that Helms advance his nomination, but Helms refused. After an intensive six-week battle, Weld conceded defeat and withdrew his nomination on September 15, 1997. He commented sarcastically, "I asked President Clinton to withdraw my name from the Senate so I can go back to New England, where no one has to approach the government on bended knee to ask it to do its duty."
Weld was a partner in the Boston and Manhattan offices of the international law firm McDermott Will & Emery from 1997 to 2001, and head of the New York office from 2000 to 2001. In December 2000, the private equity firm announced that Weld would join the firm, to be renamed Leeds Weld & Co., as a general partner, effective on January 1, 2001. At the private equity firm, Weld later "reduced his role to a senior advisor while considering a run for New York governor" in 2005. Weld rejoined McDermott Will & Emery in 2006. Weld was admitted to the bar in New York in 2008. In 2012, Weld moved to the Boston law firm of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky, and Popeo, becoming a partner there and a principal with the firm's government relations affiliate, ML Strategies LLC.
From January to October 2005, Weld was chief executive of Decker College in Louisville, Kentucky. His term ended as the college was closing under bankruptcy protection following a disagreement with the U.S. Department of Education about accreditation of its construction-related courses and online instruction. This matter would follow Weld into the 2006 race for Governor of New York, with former U.S. Senator from New York Alfonse D'Amato asserting that Weld was responsible and oversaw "multimillion dollar looting". In March 2016, the Wall Street Street Journal posted an editorial in which the newspaper expanded on a 2012 piece[by whom?] to make the case that the Department of Education's 2005 claim against Decker College was "factually erroneous", with revenge against Weld[clarification needed] as a motive.
After being Governor of Massachusetts, Weld moved to New York in 2000. On April 24, 2005, it was reported that he was in talks with the New York Republicans to run for Governor of New York in 2006, against likely Democratic nominee Eliot Spitzer. Incumbent GOP Governor George Pataki announced on July 27 that he would not seek a fourth term. On August 19, 2005, Weld officially announced his candidacy for Governor of New York, seeking to become the second person after Sam Houston to serve as governor of two different U.S. states. His main opponent in the GOP race was former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso. Early in the campaign, former New York Secretary of State Randy Daniels and Assemblyman Patrick R. Manning also waged campaigns for the governorship.
In December 2005, Weld received the backing of the Republican county chairs of New York State during a county chairs meeting. Several chairs of large counties abstained from voting or did not attend the meeting, which led to talk that Weld was not as popular as thought. During his early campaign, Weld was publicly endorsed by Republican State Chairman Stephen J. Minarik and was rumored to be backed by Pataki. Despite reports of a possible public endorsement by Pataki, no endorsement was made.
On April 29, 2006, Weld received the Libertarian Party's nomination. Weld reportedly offered Faso the chance to join his ticket as a candidate for lieutenant governor, an offer Faso reportedly declined. Faso gained increasing support from party leaders in various counties, including Westchester and Suffolk, both of which had large delegate counts to the state convention.
On May 31, 2006, Weld startled the Republican State Convention by announcing his choice of New York Secretary of State Christopher Jacobs of Buffalo as his running mate for lieutenant governor. In the following days, Weld received some criticism for his choice of Secretary Jacobs, because Jacobs had donated $250 to the gubernatorial campaign of Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in 2004. Weld said he chose Jacobs, a member of the Buffalo Board of Education, because of Jacobs' work on education reform and upstate economic development issues. Secretary Jacobs has been an advocate of charter schools and for the revitalization of the upstate economy. Weld also said he chose Secretary Jacobs because he was an "Albany outsider" and could bring this perspective to state government. When he was selected by Weld, Jacobs had only served for six weeks as secretary of state in Pataki's Cabinet.
On June 1, 2006, the Republican State Convention voted 61% to 39% to endorse Faso. On June 5, Stephen J. Minarik, the chairman of the state Republican Party, who had been Weld's most prominent backer, called on Weld to withdraw in the interest of party unity. Weld formally announced his withdrawal from the race the following day and returned to private life.
Spitzer would go on to defeat Faso by the largest margin in New York gubernatorial history, winning 70-28.
Weld publicly endorsed Mitt Romney for the presidency on January 8, 2007. Weld was a co-chairman for Romney's campaign in New York State. On the same day that Weld endorsed Romney, Gov. and Mrs. Weld also raised $50,000 for Romney's exploratory committee. Weld personally made a donation of $2,100, the maximum allowed per person per election at the time. He later donated another $200 (after the new maximum allowed rose to $2,300).
Weld was also active in campaigning for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in New Hampshire where both governors have been known to travel together. Weld went on to endorse Barack Obama over John McCain for the presidency of the United States. Weld endorsed Mitt Romney in the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election.
On May 17, 2016, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party's 2012 presidential nominee and the leading candidate for its 2016 nomination, announced that he had selected Weld to be his choice for running mate. The vice-presidential candidate is formally nominated separately from and after the presidential candidate under the Libertarian Party's rules, although as the presidential nominee Johnson was first allowed to speak about his endorsement of Weld. Both candidates won their nominations on a second ballot after narrowly failing to attain an absolute majority on the first ballot. Weld accepted the Libertarian Party's nomination for vice president at the Libertarian National Convention in Orlando, Florida on May 29.
During the campaign, Weld took the lead on fundraising operations, as well as appearing on national television and at campaign rallies across the nation. Together, Johnson and Weld were the first presidential ticket to consist of two Governors since the 1948 election. Despite polling higher than any third-party campaign since Ross Perot in 1992, Johnson and Weld were excluded from the debates controlled by the Commission on Presidential Debates and their poll numbers subsequently declined.
Nationwide, the Johnson/Weld ticket received 4,488,919 votes (3.28%), breaking the Libertarian Party's record for both absolute vote total (previously 1,275,923 for Johnson in 2012) and percentage (previously 1.06% for Ed Clark and David Koch in 1980).
In February 2013, Weld publicly supported legal recognition for same-sex marriage in an amicus brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Weld joined Our America Initiative's 2016 Liberty Tour a number of times, speaking alongside other libertarian leaders and activists such as Law Enforcement Against Prohibition executive director and former Baltimore Police Chief Neill Franklin, Free the People's Matt Kibbe, Republican activists Ed Lopez and Liz Mair, Conscious Capitalism's Alex McCobin, Reason Foundation's David Nott, Foundation for Economic Education's Jeffrey Tucker, the Libertarian Party's Carla Howell, and author and journalist Naomi Wolf; the tour raised "awareness about third party inclusion in national presidential debates" and "spread the message of liberty and libertarian thought."
Throughout 2017 and 2018, Weld has appeared at several state Libertarian Party conventions and endorsed various Libertarian candidates in the 2018 midterm elections. He has been speculated to run for the Libertarian nomination in 2020.
Weld's first wife, Susan Roosevelt Weld, formerly a professor at Harvard University specializing in ancient Chinese civilization and law and then General Counsel to the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, is a great granddaughter of Theodore Roosevelt. They married on June 7, 1975, and had five children: David Minot (b. August 26, 1976), a professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara; Ethel Derby (b. October 26, 1977), a physician; Mary Blake (b. January 21, 1979), an attorney; Quentin Roosevelt (b. July 9, 1981), an attorney; and Frances Wylie (b. September 18, 1983), who works for the San Francisco Giants.
Weld was a principal at Leeds, Weld & Co., which describes itself as the United States's largest private equity fund focused on investing in the education and training industry. Weld co-chaired the Independent Task Force on North America under the Council on Foreign Relations, which studied the liberalization of markets and free trade between the USA, Canada, and Mexico.
|Ancestors of Bill Weld|
Weld has written three mass market novels:
| U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts
|Party political offices|
| Republican nominee for Governor of Massachusetts
| Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Massachusetts
| Libertarian nominee for Vice President of the United States
| Governor of Massachusetts